Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Standards, IPR and digital TV convergence: theories and empirical evidence

Matteucci, Nicola (2013): Standards, IPR and digital TV convergence: theories and empirical evidence. Forthcoming in:

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Abstract

Media convergence presents a few noticeable dimensions, and requests an interdisciplinary research approach. We conduct a long-run analysis of the main initiatives of technological standardization carried out in the realm of “traditional” (cable, satellite and terrestrial) digital TV, focusing on Europe, to assess the technological determinants of its apparent trends to convergence. This analysis inevitably calls into question IPR strategies and policies. In particular, we investigate how private incentives and the public agenda for interoperability have shaped the on-going convergence of the TV sector toward an “IP-based” meta-platform. Despite the widespread usage of open standards and formats, the real potential for interoperability along the digital TV filière has been modest, and mostly limited to the transmission segment. This is mainly due to the strong proprietary features characterizing the TV sector, where viable content production and provision rests on effective control of content IPR. Further, patent portfolio strategies and control of crucial copyrights become increasingly central for competing in the converging TV sector, where former telecom companies, traditional TV operators and new OTT players strive to become gatekeepers of essential layers of the new IP-based delivery platforms. To sum up, while technological opportunities today do enable pervasive media interoperability and affordable convergence at the user-level, private incentives relentlessly push the industry toward standards fragmentation and the construction of walled gardens.

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